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Free Study Guide-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Free Chapter Summary Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 6

Summary

Victor opens Elizabeth's letter and is rather depressed at the contents. Elizabeth and the family have been extremely concerned about him for the past few months. They had become anxious because he never kept in touch, and they learned of his illness from Henry. Victor's father had wanted to pay him a visit, but Elizabeth stopped him from doing so. She says that Ernest has grown up to be a splendid young lad. He wants to start a military career. He is not interested in gaining bookish knowledge but would rather be outdoors in nature.

She goes on to tell the tale of Justine Moritz, who was badly treated by her own mother and later adopted by Caroline, Victor's mother. Justine was very attached to Caroline, and even became ill after her death. In the meantime, her siblings had died, leaving her mother virtually childless. Justine's mother called her back home after the death of her siblings. Then her mother died. Justine has now returned to live with the Frankensteins.

She also mentions William, who is now five years old and already has two "wives." She ends the letter with the general gossip about the town, but not without repeated pleas for him to write back.


Victor immediately decides to write to his family, whom he has ignored for so long. He introduces Henry to some of the professors at the university. The sight of laboratory instruments is now loathsome for Victor. Henry notices this and tries to keep him away from them. But Professor Waldman cannot be avoided, and he praises Victor for his accomplishments. Henry, realizing that Victor is rather uncomfortable, excuses himself and gently changes the topic.

Henry is at the university to study the "oriental languages" (Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit), and Victor joins him. The summer passes away and they head homewards. A harsh winter delays their departure for Geneva until the following May. Clerval proposes a walking tour of Ingolstadt. Victor returns to his previous enjoyment of nature. He is trying to forget the past, and Henry helps him in this attempt.

Notes

Elizabeth's letter to Victor is rather touching. It reveals her genuine concern for him. The author here introduces Justine Moritz, a character who is later further developed. It is interesting to note that Justine's background resembles Elizabeth's. The fact that Justine looked upon Caroline as her role-model and wants to be exactly like her shows the extent to which Caroline influences people, albeit unintentionally. Again, the Frankenstein family's sympathy for the poor and disadvantaged is highlighted when they adopt Justine. Romantic literature often displays compassion for the alienated or the disenfranchised.

The letter makes Victor somewhat homesick, and he desperately wants to regain contact with his family. The mood has now changed, and Victor is consciously trying to avoid anything that reminds him of his gruesome past. Waldman is happy with the progress he has made, but Victor would like to avoid this topic at any cost. Clerval is sensitive enough to sense Victor's irritation and comes to his rescue. The reader sees the development of a life-long friendship here, as both men seem to be helping the other. Henry is nearly a guardian angel for Victor: he saves Victor when he is on the verge of destruction, emotional as well as spiritual. Although Victor gradually returns to "normal," it is clear that he has not truly recovered. Another shock could threaten his health.

Waldman's praise at his progress could easily have encouraged him to continue his experiments or to make further progress in his field. But he has evidently reached a saturation point and questions his earlier ambition.

The chapter focuses on Henry's role as a friend. It also concentrates on the domestic scene, which has so far been neglected. It prepares the readers for Victor's return home, and one wonders what is to happen next. The absence of the monster in the next few chapters changes the mood of the novel significantly.

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